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Woman who braved third degree torture


SHAHID HUSAIN | Islamabad, July 12, 2011 10:32
Tags : Rahila Tiwana | the ferocious student leader of yesteryear |CIA Centre | Saddar | Karachi | Jinnah Postgraduate Centre (JPMC) |Afzal Tiwana | Prof. Haroon Ahmed | Machine Tools Factory | People’s Students Federation | Pakistan People’s Party |Karachi Press Club | Asif Ali Zardari | nspector Malik Ahsan |PSF activists | Human Rights Commission of Pakistan |Shaheed Benazir Bhutto | Social Welfare Advisor | Darul-Amans | Human Rights International | |

Rahila Tiwana, the ferocious student leader of yesteryear who was tortured in the 1990s at infamous CIA Centre, Saddar, Karachi, to the extent that she had to be admitted at the psychiatric ward of Jinnah Postgraduate Centre (JPMC) has not lost hope. “I have witnessed dead bodies of 80 of our comrades,” Tiwana told TSI.

“When I was admitted at the psychiatric ward of JPMC, I felt as if blood is all around me,” she said. “It goes to the credit of Prof. Haroon Ahmed, the then head of the psychiatry department at JPMC, the media and my comrades that I could recover from that ordeal,” she added.

Tiwana’s house was raided in 1990 and her brother Afzal Tiwana and father Fazal Rabbani Tiwana were arrested from the residential colony of Machine Tools Factory where her father was a senior officer. She was then president of the Karachi wing of People’s Students Federation (PSF), a student body affiliated with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). A large number of other PSF activists were also rounded up. Ironically, this was done when Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister.

“I wanted to contact Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto and inform her that a conspiracy was being hatched against her by some PPP elements and even called a news conference at the Karachi Press Club on July 27, 1990 but failed to meet her at that time,” Tiwana said. “On August 6, 1990 the civilian government of Benazir was toppled,” she regretted.

“The very same day my house was raided,” she said. “The Station House Officer (SHO) of CIA Centre, Saddar, Chaudhry Latif told us that I have a death warrant and I must leave my place,” Tiwana said. Tiwana’s father sent her to her ancestral town Mitha Tiwana in Sargodha district for her safety. “My village is adjacent to Bhagat Singh’s village,” Tiwana said with a sense of pride.

However, some PSF activists urged her to come back to Karachi where misery was waiting for her. “The very next day DSP Niazi came to my place and said I have been summoned by DSP Mohammad Khan of CIA Centre, Saddar, so that I could take along with me my father and brother who were being released,” Tiwana said. That was only a trap that culminated in horrid torture to Tiwana. “Before leaving for the CIA Centre, Saddar, I tried to contact many of our PSF friends but nobody responded. Asif Ali Zardari had also been arrested so it was futile to contact him while a hunt was going on for Benazir,” Tiwana said.

“At the CIA Centre I was brutally tortured by DSP Mohammad Khan and Inspector Malik Ahsan,” Tiwana said. “They hated the PPP,” she added. “My arm was fractured, my nails were taken out and I was kept standing continuously for five days,” Tiwana said. “They would say they have killed Benazir and the very thought was extremely painful for me,” Tiwana said.

“I and Shehla Raza (now deputy speaker, Sindh Assembly) were kept at the CIA Centre for about a month and they tortured PSF activists in front of me,” Tiwana said. Jam Sadiq was the Chief Minister of Sindh at that time while Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister,” Tiwana recalled.

“When I was released, top pro-PPP doctors avoided admitting me in their hospitals,” Tiwana regretted. “It goes to the credit of Dr. Haroon Ahmed who admitted me immediately. Ironically his laboratory was ransacked by hooligans but it did not perturb him,” she said. “Cameras were installed at the psychiatric ward and I got a bail after seven months,” she said.

“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Amnesty International played a vital role in my release,” Tiwana said. “I was invited at a human rights conference at Washington DC after I was released. “I remained in the United States for some six months and was also treated there. On my return Shaheed Benazir Bhutto crowned me with gold,” she said. Tiwana was made Social Welfare Advisor when Benazir Bhutto returned to power. “I had a meagre budget of Rs 50,000 but Maulana Abdus Sattar Edhi helped me out financially and we raided many Darul-Amans,” she said.

Tiwana has been a former deputy speaker at the Sindh Assembly, former member, Sindh Assembly and is member of Amnesty International and Human Rights International but has parted ways with the PPP. “Benazir trusted me but a group in the PPP conspired against me,” she said. “But BB is still my leader and I love her,” she said. “We never made our residence a jail nor we ran away from our country,” she said.

Nowadays Tiwana is associated with the National People’s Party and believes that only local bodies could help solve people’s problems. “Karachi has been made hostage but we will fight for the people of Karachi. It’s mini-Pakistan,” she said.    

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017